Michael Mann started the project; Lahu Irrigation Project (LIP) then became Integrated Tribal Development Programme (ITDP), with 4 hill tribe staff 20 years ago, now there are 7 projects with 30 staff.
In July 1991, The Baptist Union of Sweden (BUS) financed a project to assist the Thailand Lahu Baptist Convention (TLBC) in its efforts to improve and establish village drinking water supply systems, irrigation and agriculture for Lahu villages in and outside the convention. These were basic needs that the TLBC wanted BUS to help address. The Lahu Irrigation Project (LIP) was then set up to try to meet these needs. During the implementation of LIP activities there was awareness that other tribal groups in northern Thailand also had the same needs, therefore the project was terminated in October 1996 and re-evaluated to look at ways to do more holistic development. It was concluded that the new project would not only look at community development / agriculture, but stress on improving socio-economic needs for resource-poor within all tribal groups. It was also envisioned that this new programme would help in capacity building by having a number of smaller projects (each with their own specialty), micro-managed by a team of hill-tribes, working strategically in resource-poor villages. The name was accordingly changed to the “Integrated Tribal Development Programme” (ITDP) and placed under the “Relief and Development Committee (R&D)” who coordinates relief and development projects for all tribal groups and is directly under the Christian Service Foundation (CSF) which is registered with the Thai Government. In 2003 the R&D was replace by the Centre for Support and Coordination for Rural Development (CSC), which is now the formal rural development arm of the CSF. Now we are looking at starting our own foundation.For the past 21 years the Integrated Tribal Development Programme has assisted hill tribe people to cope with the many changes that have taken place in their livelihoods. Mostly through providing special assistance with the construction of drinking water and irrigation systems, delivery and management of tree crops for subsistence farming and income generation, fish farming, establishing a Fair-Trade labeling Organization International coffee cooperative, self-help groups, and assisting Lahu hostels in areas of capacity building and sustainability. No doubt, the experiences of LIP that assisted the TLBC during the early years made the implementation of ITDP activities much more effective and efficient. To date, in addition to aiding minority groups in Thailand, ITDP is assisting other organizations in Burma, China and Laos.